Matt Williamson's Prime Time Preview
Before you play Fanium this weekend, make sure you read what @WilliamsonNFL has to say about the Prime Time Games:
Indianapolis at Houston
These division rivals met in Week 6 with the Colts prevailing 30-23 in Indianapolis. Indianapolis lost Marlon Mack with a broken hand last week, but Jonathan Williams filled in very well to put away the Jaguars in Week 11. Jordan Wilkins could be back for this game though and could be in line for the lead role with Nyheim Hines entrenched as the receiving back. Last week aside, Houston has held up quite well against the run, but their secondary can be had without question. Jacoby Brissett returned from injury last week. He was spectacular against the Texans in their first meeting, but Indianapolis could get nothing done on the ground in that contest. TY Hilton has really been missed. He probably won’t play on Thursday night and the Colts really lack dynamic playmakers in his absence. A lot will be asked of Brissett. Carlos Hyde has only caught six passes in a Texans uniform, but he is clearly the focal point of this rushing attack as a volume runner. On a very short week, the home team might lean on Hyde, who wasn’t called upon last week with Houston playing from behind. Hyde is a key component in this game as the Colts run defense is quite problematic. But the Texans are a well-rounded affective offense with a strong group of receivers. DeAndre Hopkins could be set up for a big game. There isn’t a cover man on the backend of the Colts defense that can hang with him down after down without help. Of course, Deshaun Watson is as electric as any player in the NFL and Houston has downfield threats in the passing game, but the Colts defense is predicated on eliminating the big play. So this game sets up as one that should feature Hyde and Hopkins with short consistent gains.
Green Bay at San Francisco
The 49ers haven’t leaned as much on their running game of late, but they sure could get back to it at home on Sunday night against a very suspect Green Bay run defense. We know that the outside zone scheme is the foundation of Kyle Shanahan’s excellent offensive scheme. Plus, even though Jimmy Garoppolo is putting up nice numbers, he is also making too many questionable throws. Shanahan might choose to dial the passing game back a bit this week. Ross Dwelley has played a lot of snaps in George Kittle’s absence, but the 49ers are clearly a far more dangerous offense with one of the league’s best tight ends in the lineup. He hopefully returns on Sunday night. Meanwhile, Deebo Samuel is breaking out to some degree as his rookie season rolls along. An interesting strength vs. strength battle to watch will be San Francisco’s offensive tackles, Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, vs. the Packers edge rushers, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. The winner of those matchups could go a long way in determining how successful the 49ers offense is on Sunday night. Aaron Rodgers faces what could be the NFL’s best pass defense. While Green Bay has been excellent in both phases, this gameplan might be centered more around Aaron Jones than relying on Rodgers. That being said, Devante Adams is in line for a lot of work and should rack up a very high number of targets. The 49ers defense is better up front than on the backend, but what receiver outside of Adams can be consistent contributor? Plus, Rodgers is likely going to be under a lot of pressure as he fights crowd noise and a great San Francisco pass-rush.
Baltimore at Los Angeles Rams
Everyone knows that Baltimore boasts a simply elite running game. But everyone doesn’t know that Los Angeles does quite a good job stopping the run. But they haven’t seen such a multidimensional rushing attack like the one is coming to town on Monday night and adjusting for the speed that Lamar Jackson on the fly is very difficult on a defense that is unfamiliar with him. But on the flip side, the Ravens haven’t seen anyone like Aaron Donald. Baltimore throws the ball quite effectively too. Jalen Ramsey will probably follow Marquise Brown and play him very physically, but the Ravens tight end usage could be hard to contend with. The Ravens love using multiple tight ends and Mark Andrews is their most consistent pass catcher. The Ravens defense has been better vs. the pass than run this year and it is becoming clear that Los Angeles’ best method of playing offense is operating through Todd Gurley first and foremost. Gurley’s 25 carries last week indicate that the Rams realize this, but they were also without Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods in that game. Woods will be back, but Jared Goff needs to be a complementary player. This is especially true with the Rams problems up front. Los Angeles offensive line has been a revolving door of different starting lineups and while the Ravens aren’t overly potent up front, moving Baltimore’s big-bodies defensive tackles will be a challenge. Also, Baltimore’s defense revolves around their outstanding and much improved secondary. The Ravens will throw a lot at Goff in terms of blitzing and coverage disguises because their cover men thrive in one-on-one situations. Goff might not get a very clear picture against this defense.